New agents mean busi­ness

Life & Style Weekend - - TREND - with Seanna Cronin

THE new agents on the beat aren’t to be un­der­es­ti­mated in the new sea­son of Nar­cos. The first two sea­sons of the pop­u­lar drug drama se­ries fo­cused on the crim­i­nal ex­ploits of Colom­bian drug lord Pablo Es­co­bar.

After the death of Es­co­bar at the end of sea­son two, the au­thor­i­ties have set their sights on a new tar­get. The DEA and CIA fo­cus on Es­co­bar’s ri­vals, the Cali car­tel, with Javier Pena (Pe­dro Pas­cal) re­turn­ing to Bo­gota to over­see the DEA’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Christchurch na­tive Matt Whe­lan joins the cast this year as DEA agent Daniel Van Ness who, along with his part­ner Chris Feistl (Michael Stahl-David), en­ters the op­er­a­tion with en­thu­si­asm and in­ex­pe­ri­ence.

“He’s at first very re­luc­tant to be dragged into that scene,” Matt says. “He’s very happy in his po­si­tion in the of­fice push­ing pa­pers and re­ally has no de­sire to be on the front line. But when he’s dragged there, he be­comes quite pas­sion­ate and driven about the mis­sion it­self.”

The new agents are un­der­es­ti­mated by the car­tel and the lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers on its pay­roll. Matt was able to draw on the time he spent with the real-life Chris Feistl while the show was film­ing in Colom­bia.

“A lot of the time these guys were op­er­at­ing in Cali with­out a lot of sup­port or any kind of back-up ... you had to be on your game all the time,” he says.

“They’re these two big Amer­i­can dudes who are wear­ing (base­ball) caps to be more incog­nito but they’re very ob­vi­ously Amer­i­can. They had to do what they could to stay un­der­cover and not be com­pro­mised.”

Matt, best known for his roles in Go Girls and Amer­i­can Play­boy: The Hugh Hefner Story, ad­mits his Span­ish is still shock­ing de­spite his eight months work­ing on the bilin­gual drama in Colom­bia.

“It’s em­bar­rass­ingly bad,” he laughs. “I had all the best in­ten­tions to be flu­ent by the end of it.”

He’s full of praise for the coun­try, which he hopes will be recog­nised for its cul­ture and nat­u­ral beauty.

“Most of the peo­ple I talked to were re­ally ex­cited about the show, but it’s a topic that they don’t re­ally want to for­ever be associ­ated with their coun­try,” he says.

“It’s such a beau­ti­ful coun­try ... we were very lucky we are able to shoot there and in some of the real lo­ca­tions that these events hap­pened.”

Sea­son three of Nar­cos pre­mieres on Net­flix on Fri­day.

PHOTO: JUAN PABLO GU­TIER­REZ/NET­FLIX

Michael Stahl-David and Matt Whe­lan in a scene from sea­son three of Nar­cos.

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